While we may see difference and variation in the world around us, it is important to differentiate between classifications. For example, when we see two people of different heights, it is easy to think that they have different “types” of genes, which contribute to their height. While their genetic makeup is different, there is no gene that serves as a default for height, instead everyone’s genes are varied. The variance that we see all around around us is continuous, and not a deviation from a certain “type.” It is about this very subject, as well as the dangers of typological thinking , that Professor Judy stone spoke to a great length about in her lecture on the Unfinished Business of Darwin’s Revolution. Like rap group Rae Sremmurd, professor Stone made it clear that genes “ain’t got no type.”
Stone started the lecture by taking a look at the works of great philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle, which influenced many of Darwin’s ideas. In Plato’s Theory of Forms, the philosopher leads with the idea that every object or quality has an it’s own unique essence, or “type”. Also looking at Aristotle’s Biological Classification, which states that species are categories or types within broader categories such as genera,a ush for typological thinking can be seen. Following the logic of Aristotle and Plato leads to seeing any variation within a species as deviance. However, even though he studied the work of these philosophers, Darwin was able to recognize the variation within a species as normal, and central to the idea of natural selection.
Darwin was able to take the previous model of evolution, a ladder, and reconstruct is to look like a branching tree. Reinforcing the idea that there are no set steps to evolution, but that everything is varied and complicated.
These two conflicting views of evolution, and the results of them, can be seen in modern day science. Within the field of evolutionary biology and genetics, there have been two main types of scientists: biometricians and mutationists. Biometricians believe in the theory natural selection and the importance of small changes and variance within a species. Conversely, mutationists believe in the transmission of large differences within a species, which follow a certain type, by studying the inheritance of discrete traits.
As can be seen, typological thinking is main point of view in certain areas of science. The ascendance of the gene has only exacerbated this more, leading to the irreversible and criminal impacts in evolutionary science. The view of genes as types, that are different between different groups of people, made it possible for physicians to start basing their medical treatments on the race of their patients. Typological thinking can also lead to the belief of a racial basis of intelligence, because if every race has a different “type” of gene, then naturally some must be stronger/weaker than others.
Overall, I believe that is is clear to see that typological thinking is overall negative. Anything that advocates for the separation of races be “gene” is not good to me. I agree with professor Stone wholeheartedly.